We left Windhoek behind and turned towards Weissenfels in the mountains. It took not even 11km and the road changed from smooth tarmac to beautiful mountainous gravel. A real test were the 6-8% gradients after 1500 km on totally pan flat roads. It took a few hills to wake up the climbing legs. The views were incredible making 114km fly by very quickly. That afternoon we were surprised by a thunderstorm and some solid rainfall, bringing much relief to the area after a very dry rainy season.
The next morning, we continued our journey to Solitaire pass the Tropic of Capricorn and via the Spreetshoogte Pass. The mountain pass connects the Namib Desert with the Khomas Highland, and with an elevation drop of 1000m over only 4km it is the steepest pass in Namibia. At 1,870m elevation, the view over the Namib desert is spectacular. The downhill was a serious test to the brake pads and once arrived at the bottom corrugated sand awaited us. Finding the smoothest line was hard work with a constant shift to the left and right through some deep sandy patches. A swarm of flies kept us company and testing the nerves for the last few kilometers. Since Windhoek the temperature has been very pleasant with around 10 degrees in the morning and around 30 degrees after noon. In Solitaire we did the most important thing first, indulging in the famous apple cake followed by a jump in the cold pool. After sun set, when most tourists had left and only a few campers and lodge guest remained, we enjoyed the tranquility of the desert with the brightly shining stars above by a glass of wine.
We left Solitaire just before sun rise and were rewarded with the most spectacular morning on the bike. There was a pleasant morning chill in the air, and as we rode along the wide sandy gravel road through the great Namib desert, the slowly rising sun began to colour the mountains and desert in red. I had to pause a few times to fully appreciate the moment. We had a Time Trial scheduled over a 30km distance that day, starting at the 14km mark. Rather a shock to the system and still half asleep, I pushed as hard as possible without having really any high-end gears left. The corrugation, especially on the faster descents, kept my bottles jump out and had to use my knee to keep them inside the cage. With 1h08min, I had finished 8 minutes after Rob, the winner of the TT, in 3rd position overall. The day was rounded off with a naked mile. Yes, you read correctly, a NAKED mile, which is a tradition of the Tour D’Afrique. One of the riders rode the full stage nude to either catch a full body tan or simply for the liberating feeling, or maybe both. Not sure. More than usual, we were a great attraction to passing cars. The fact that there are cyclist riding through the desert is somewhat unusual per se, but nude riders just took it to new heights. Although it felt very liberating, I was more than pleased to put my cycle kit back on.
We are having a rest day in Sesriem today, just a few kilometers away from the Dunes and continue our ride tomorrow. Ahead is a 5-day back-to-back ride to the Richtersveld.
For those interested, Tour D’Afrique will end in Cape Town on the 14th May, exactly two weeks from today. We’ll leave Malmesbury on that morning, take some back roads to Melkbosstrand and convoy from there all the way along the coast to the finish at the Lagoon Hotel. Feel free to join us for the last kilometers of our tour to the finish!!! I will confirm more exact info soon.
Once again a huge thank you to everyone’s contribution to fund the purchase of buffalo bicycles for school children in South Africa. If you haven’t done so already, please consider a donation here:https://katjasteenkamp.com/qhubeka-world-bicycle-relief/
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